NSW coach calls for end to 'cruel' demands on stars
NSW coach Laurie Daley has called on the NRL to consider exempting State of Origin's warriors from backing up for weekend NRL club games.
With rugby league's intense interstate series becoming more and more brutal, Daley said he'd "hate to be those players backing up this weekend".
"I think that's cruel," he said on Fox Sports' NRL 360.
"I don't think we can do it any more. We had to send two of the Bulldogs boys (Josh Jackson and Dave Klemmer) on a flight this morning at eight o'clock to New Zealand to play (on Friday night).
"I don't know how they're going to play ... To put their bodies through what they did last night and then to back up 48 hours later, I think we seriously need to look at it as a game because when you talk about player welfare, you're putting them at risk of injuring themselves as well."
Wednesday night's epic encounter in Sydney has so far claimed 10 casualties, including Queensland superstars Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith and battered and shattered Blues skipper Boyd Cordner.
Maroons utility back Darius Boyd will not only miss Brisbane's clash with Canberra on Saturday - he's been ruled out for six weeks with a broken thumb.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters said the speed and physicality of Origin football these days was out of this world.
"I was talking to a couple of our forwards after the game about the game and how hard every player at this level runs now," Walters said.
"If you don't run hard, you go backwards. Don't worry about slowing the ball down, you end up back from where you started your run from - and it's the same for both teams. Even the wingers when they come in.
"Remember in the '90s, the little wingers would come in and have a run and they'd just get tackled. Now they get belted.
"It's amazing what they put themselves through, both teams."